The days of Alastor the Vengeful befell the Earth with the failings of The Siblings. Gavin the Corrupted, blinded by jealousy, ignorant of his station, succumbed to the basest of human needs, the strongest of human frailties. Gavin sought vengeance against his sister, Rachel, the Key and Lock. Knowingly he brought flame and ash to their union. Unknowingly he sundered the Gate. Unknowingly he fell. Blindly The Corrupted cast wide the gate held shut for so long by his Sister’s spells. Ignorant of Rachel’s ancient duty, Gavin invited the grim chaos embedded in the soul of their elder sibling, Alastor the Vengeful, to be visited upon the Earth.
A thousand years of grief. A thousand years of ash and destruction began with the single act of striking a match. The fire Gavin set in the City of Brotherly Love unleashed a hundred generations of blood and flame, for it seared open the Gateway that Rachel had spent her short life faithfully seeking to keep closed. The portal it opened allowed their long-dead brother Alastor to assume his truest form on our mortal plane and besiege the Earth with his followers, The Shadowkin.
But we fought. We resisted. Somehow we survived.
Time stopped. The dead returned each Full Moon with the coming of the Light. Alastor, hell-bent on visiting centuries of his vengeance upon the Earth, conspired to keep us alive. To keep us suffering. That was his undoing.
As years and decades—and, eventually, centuries—of New Moons and Full Moons and Equinoxes passed, we studied for generations and searched while we fought. We wrote down our history. We kept a record. What follows are pieces of that record which we hold as sacred as any sacred text we’ve ever known. These are The Cantos of The Shadowtime, which reveal and record, heal, and hold for the eternity of Man the secrets of The Siblings and the sundering of The Shadowkin. With these words we resolve that we shall live in Shadow no more…
from The Cantos of The Shadowtime: Rise and Fall of Alastor the Vengeful
Canto I. The Siblings
In days before The Shadowtimes, before
the End of Light, The Siblings held the dark
at bay. Unknown to him but shared to her,
the Sister was the Catalyst, the Key
and Lock that held the Gates of Vengeance shut.
The Brother they kept ignorant, for he
should serve as Spirit of His Solitude,
a foil of equilibrium who held
our fathers’ sins upon his soul, himself
blameless, oblivious, pure. Virtue unsullied.
Canto IV. The Siblings Fail
The Sister held the Bonds of Radiance.
On her befell the ancient task that all
her kind submitted to, that all her kind
were meant to keep, that all like her assumed.
She was tasked to scrawl the spells in red, red
ink drawn from her line, the ink she carried
in her veins, the blood of millennia,
of Keepers lost and long forgotten,
of Catalysts used and discarded.
The mystic spells she scrawled in her own blood
she’d chant into the empty skies of New
Moon nights when the Shadowkin were weakest.
But weariness and pettiness set in.
Her Sibling who’d survived began to push
for Solitude. Her Sibling who’d survived
began to push her away. When finally
she’d had enough, she gave her brother his way.
Canto VI. The Rosary
…so sworn and scribed to all the Keys:
“and lo it shall be handed down to each
of them, Sister upon Sister upon
Succeeding Sister who with the coming
of each New Moon will deign to rend her flesh
per Latet Lancea Primus Sanguinis…”
Canto IX. Alastor Unleashed
Centuries of blood. Centuries of flame.
The Shadowkin erupted from the earth.
With Alastor, their General returned
to mortal form, the Shadowkin, beset
with rage and hate, took their revenge on all
of us. No families were spared. No life
was held precious. No death kept permanent.
Such would be the malice of Alastor,
and such would be the cost to those on Earth
who’d held him in captivity with love
and light and blood and solemn sacrifice.
For the sins of our fathers we suffered.
For transgressions untold Alastor arose
and took his revenge in rivers of blood,
in forests of flame, in mountains of rage.
Canto XIV. The Avenger Banished
Who knows how long the Darkness ruled, how long
the Shadowkin did skulk and slay their way
from home to home, from town to town, alive
with gleeful spite and murderous intent.
Who knows how long we fought amongst ourselves?
The Siblings were the only ones who stayed
deceased, the only ones Alastor kept
suspended in the limbo of the damned.
A child it was who found the song inside
The Book of Verses Recondite which held
at last the solution to our strife. Ice
was not the nemesis of fire, it said.
It told us hate could not be solved with hate,
for it consumed as readily as fire.
Alastor would be overcome by force
if only we were pure of heart and free
of vengeful claims ourselves. And none of us
alive that day could claim to be so free.
Not one of us who read that tome could say
his heart was free of hate. But as we read
the Song of Love and Recompense we learned.
We learned. And so it was that we forgave…